Starting June 26, the Redmond software giant today will debut three “bug bounty” programs that encourage computer engineers to help the company keep its products safe from a security standpoint both before and after launch.
The “Mitigation Bypass Bounty,” will award $100,000 to those who can expose security issues in Windows 8.1 Preview, the latest version of the Windows operating system to be unveiled also on June 26. The company is offering an additional $50,000 for the “BlueHat Bonus for Defense” program, which awards those who can demonstrate defensive techniques to block what the hacker uncovers in the “Mitigation Bypass Bounty” program.
So to recap: If you can find a bug in Windows 8.1 and offer a nice defense mechanism, $150,000 could show up in your bank account. Not bad, eh?
There’s also an $11,000 reward for those who can pinpoint cracks in the Internet Explorer 11 Preview. But this program, unlike the other two, has a deadline of July 26 so that Microsoft can catch any bugs during the beta stage of IE 11.
Microsoft previously offered a one-time $250,000 BlueHat prize contest, but the new programs are the company’s first that are ongoing. The reward systems are also some of the most generous among big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Mozilla.
Hackers as young as 14 can sign up, though minors need permission from their parents. Residents of countries under U.S. sanctions like Cuba and North Korea are banned from the program.
Microsoft penned this blog post that provides more details about the new program.